St. Patrick’s Day
They say everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and, believe me, growing up in the Boston area, if you weren’t already Irish, you pretended to be on March 17th. And, no wonder. Boston is the most Irish-American city in the United States. It is said that the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held, not in Ireland, but in Boston in 1737. I wore green every year, except for the year in junior high when I wore orange because I hoped it would get the attention of an Irish teacher on whom I had a crush. It certainly got his attention, but, oddly enough, no one else seemed to notice or care.
St. Patrick is, of course, one of the more well-known saints, and his Feast Day is celebrated in many countries around the world and in 2011 was even celebrated on the International Space Station. St. Patrick was born about 385 A.D. in Great Britain, but taken to Ireland as a slave. In a dream, God told him to flee back to Britain. Later he returned to Ireland as a Catholic Bishop and is famed for bringing Christianity to that country. It is a popular legend that he rid Ireland of snakes, but, like George Washington and the cherry tree, it is merely legend. As a matter of fact, there were no snakes in Ireland at that time, having all disappeared in the Ice Age. The patron saint of Ireland, Patrick is celebrated on March 17th, the date of his death in 461. A different source said it was unclear whether he was born on March 8th or 9th, so they added the dates together and got 17. I rather like that story better.
While many of my friends were Irish, and one had a grandmother straight from “the ould sod” and full of stories, my strongest connection to Ireland came through song. Every morning as we ate breakfast and got ready for the day, my parents and I would also be listening to the radio. Out of Boston there was a program called “Top of the Morning” featuring Carl Moore. Accompanying himself on a studio piano, he would sing some silly songs and some oldies, but more often than not, songs about Ireland and its people.: “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” “Sweet Molly Malone,” “Kathleen Mavourneen,” “My Wild Irish Rose,” “The Wearin’ of the Green,” and “Toora Loora Looral.” These songs with their often melancholy melody and nostalgic lyrics, settled deep in my heart. But my favorite was “Galway Bay” which says that if you ever go across the sea to Ireland, at the closing of the day, you should sit and watch the sun go down on Galway Bay. It’s on my list!
© Dorothy C. Judd
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